What is vaping?
Vaping is an umbrella term describing multiple ways of aerosolised nicotine consumption. Vape pens are alternatively called e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (END), e-cigars, and e-hookahs. Additional vernacular terms have emerged to describe both the various vape pen devices (e.g., tank, mod, dab pen), vape solutions (e.g., e-liquid, vape juice), as well, as the act of vaping (e.g., ripping, juuling, puffing, hitting). A conventional vape pen is a battery-operated handheld device that contains a storage chamber for the vape solution and an internal element for generating the characteristic vape aerosol. (1)
What is the impact of vaping on the lungs?
E-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI; originally called vaping-associated pulmonary injury), initially described in 2019, is an acute or subacute respiratory illness that can be severe and life-threatening. (2)
More than 2800 hospitalised cases of EVALI were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States as of 18 February 2020. Among those, there have been 68 deaths. Approximately 66 % of reported cases were male, and nearly 80 % were younger than 35 (range 13 to 85 years). (2)
The pathogenesis of EVALI is not known. EVALI appears to be a form of acute lung injury and may reflect a spectrum of disease processes rather than a single process. (2)
What ingredients might be instrumental in causing lung injury?
Examination of products used by affected patients and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) samples has found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or vitamin E acetate in the majority. However, other additives might include nicotine, cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances such as coconut oil and limonene. (2)
What are some of the other health problems associated with vaping?
The problems vaping causes include (3):
What are the signs of use?
Vaping is easy to hide, and the signs can be easy to miss. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t leave the telltale scent of tobacco. The following are clinical and behavioural signs of vaping (4):
Are e-cigarettes less harmful than cigarettes?
There is no FDA oversight of e-cigarettes, meaning there is no oversight regarding potentially harmful ingredients. (5)
Are e-cigarettes regulated?
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has established a National Technical Committee (TC) to develop South African National Standards to guide the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Currently, there are no guidelines or regulations for vaping production in South Africa, and the SABS will be responsible for setting guidelines and promoting standardisation in the field, covering electronic vaping products and their components, including cartridges and reservoirs. (6)
Currently, the Department of Health has a draft bill on the control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems that is undergoing public enquiry. The SABS said it will focus on vaping products and consider the inclusions of the draft bill, with the knowledge that standards are voluntary. (6)
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.